Nine’s Wide World of Delayed Sports!

Yesterday I woke up and turned on Channel Nine hoping to find the US Men’s Tennis Open Final but instead I found the Today show. I thought is it raining in New York or has Nine decided that its breakfast show is more important?

I turned on my Austar box and went to Fox Sports 3 to find the first set finished and the second set of the match well underway. In the to right hand corner of the screen I was reminded that this coverage was ‘Fox Sports 3 Live’, so much for Nine!

Nine finally began their coverage at the conclusion of the Today show at around 9am, when the match was already in its 3rd or 4th set. It seems Nine now only care about their Wimbledon tennis coverage.

In the last two year’s Nine’s coverage has gone downhill. In 2007 a press release from the Nine Network stated the following regarding their US Open coverage:

  • Channel Nine will exclusively broadcast free-to-air coverage of the US Open 2007 – from September 7 through to the men’s singles final on September 10.
  • Nine’s expert commentary team for the fourth and last Grand Slam tournament of the tennis calendar will broadcast live from Flushing Meadows in New York – Australian tennis greats John Newcombe, Fred Stolle and Mark Woodforde, who combined have won eight US Open titles (singles and doubles).
  • Ken Sutcliffe will again host Nine’s coverage with former tennis professional Kerryn Pratt, with feature stories and interviews supplied by leading Nine sports reporter Tim Sheridan

Source: http://www.ebroadcast.com.au/enews/us-open-300807.html

Instead this year Tim Sheridan (he is a fantastic host and reporter) hosted the coverage from Nine’s Sydney studio with Nine taking Fox Sports’ feed including its commentators. On the other hand, Fox Sports has had fantastic coverage of the US Open tennis. Nick McArdle and Wally Masur hosted the coverage in New York along with other commentators including Todd Woodbridge.

Obviously Nine is in a fierce battle with Seven in terms of breakfast television, with the Today show this year beating Sunrise in viewer share on a few occasions. However, the final yesterday was one of the greatest in living memory and went all the way to five sets where Roger Federer was dethroned by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro after five years of dominance at the tournament.

I am all in favour of the Anti-siphoning list and giving FTA networks first preference to buy broadcast rights to key sporting events such as Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

However, if a network treats the coverage of the event with disdain, is the Anti-siphoning list really doing its work? Should we have to put up with delayed coverage of a major final? Nine refer to themselves as the home of big sports. However, these big sports continue to be treated as programming that Nine would rather not have. Show it live or do not show it at all.

Thank God for Fox Sports, at least they know how to provide sports coverage.

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